STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Police were searching a house in southern England on Monday as part of investigations into two explosions in Stockholm which Swedish authorities said they were treating as an act of terrorism.
A car blew up in a busy shopping area on Saturday afternoon followed minutes later by a second blast nearby which killed one man, the suspected bomber, and injured two people.
Swedish daily Expressen said on Monday the dead man had planned to set off three devices, including one at the main railway station and one at a large department store.
The man was named on an intelligence website as Taymour Abdulwahab, an Iraqi who had studied in Britain. Police have not identified him.
The blasts follow several nervous months in Europe after a U.S. travel alert about possible attacks by militants and a failed bid by a Yemen-based al Qaeda group to use air cargo to send parcel bombs via Europe to America.
Following reports that the man had a Facebook entry and a profile on a Muslim dating website which said he had spent time in Britain, British police said they were examining a house in the town of Luton under the terrorism act. The house has been cordoned off.
“No arrests have been made and no hazardous materials found,” a police statement said.
The incident began when a car burst into flames near an area busy with Christmas shoppers in the centre of Stockholm, followed by explosions inside the car caused by gas canisters.
The second explosion, about 300 metres (yards) away and 10-15 minutes later, killed one man and wounded two people.
Expressen, citing an unnamed source, reported that the Security Policy believed one of the devices exploded accidentally, killing the man.
The man had planned to blow up his car but also had 12 pipe bombs strapped to him and a bomb in a rucksack, it said.
“It is clear that he was trying to create as much chaos and hurt as many people as possible,” Expressen quoted a police source as saying.
Shortly before the blasts, Swedish news agency TT received a threatening letter referring to Sweden’s roughly 500 troops in Afghanistan and caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad drawn by Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks.
“Our actions will speak for themselves, as long as you do not end your war against Islam and humiliation of the prophet and your stupid support for the pig Vilks,” TT news agency quoted a man as saying in one recording.
Swedish media, basing their information on the car’s number plate, have widely reported that they found the man’s entry on Facebook and an entry on the Muslim dating website.
The Swedish newspapers have not named him, but U.S.-based SITE intelligence group, which monitors Islamist websites, said a member of Shumukh al-Islam posted a message on Sunday identifying the alleged bomber as Taymour Abdulwahab and cited media reports naming him as Taymour Abdulwahab Al-Abdaly
A post on a Muslim dating website showed Abdaly was married with two young daughters and looking for a second wife.
In the post he wrote that he was born in Baghdad and moved to Sweden in 1992 and that he studied at the University of Bedfordshire in Luton, which has a large Muslim community.
Police have declined to comment on the details.
U.S. terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann told Reuters the suspect had been identified on online forums normally used by militant groups, including al Qaeda, as “holy warrior” Taimur Abdelwahab.
Kohlmann said he suspected the attack was by “a home-grown local extremist who may or may not have connections to any actual terrorist organisation.”
Swedish media said the man lived in the small town of Tranas, about 200 km (124 miles) southwest of Stockholm. Police have searched a house in the town, newspapers reported.
The Facebook page under the name of Taymour Abdulwahab had a profile picture of two men waving a black flag with Arabic writing on it and Islamic martyr videos.
A Facebook page entitled “RIP Taimour Abdulwahab our brother and friend” has also been set up.